KayKay #CRB5 Review #34 The Universe Versus Alex Woods


My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement.  Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers.  Continue on at your own risk!

This is book 2/6 of my vacation reads.  I was a bit tired of the discount fantasy books that I seem to keep picking and wanted something different.  This is a coming of age story about a boy who was hit by a meteor.  The prevailing themes are meditation, Kurt Vonnegut and death.  Sound weird?  I won’t leave you hanging, it’s wonderfully weird. Here is what I thought…


Each chapter is written like a self contained short story, but they also build upon each other to create an overarching story. As a child Alex is hit by a meteor and survives. The Alex we meet (after meteor) seems to have some ADD qualities, in terms of his need for logic and a need to take things literally. He has some social issues as well, but he has an amazing grasp on his peers social expectations. He is also comfortable knowing he will never make the ‘in crowd’ and he does what makes him happy. After his accident, Alex begins having seizures. In order to get them under control, he learns meditation techniques from his Buddhist doctor.  These techniques help him deal with life- including school bullies and an assisted suicide . He befriends an old man- Mr. Petterson, who becomes a father figure to Alex, and his friend.

Plot Score: 4/5

World Building

This book takes place in current day, small town England (where everyone know at least three things about everyone else).  I thought the author did a good job capturing the spirit of a small town.

Location Score: 4/5

Characters and Relationships

This is where the book shines. Alex is written like a real person, completely multi dimensional, and because he’s telling the story we understand his motives. I cant express how much I love this character. I cheered for him against the bullies, I cried for him when Mr Petterson died and I watched him grow into his own man- making his own decisions based on his own morality.
Alex learns from all of his relationships. From his mom, who is a tarot card reader (she owns a shop), he has seen someone follow their own beliefs- even though they are different than the mainstream.  And he has a special relationship with Mr. Patterson, who is like a father to him, but really more of a friend.

Characters Score: 5/5

Life Lessons

Here is what I am taking away from this book:
1. I want to learn to mediate they way Alex does.
2. I need to re read all of Kurt Vonnegut novels (maybe I can get a book club together for this)
3.  I’m an atheist, so this was already my belief, but you must live by your own morality, based on your own research and what you hold to be true. This integrity will keep you on the right path. (And that path will be rocky, but stay true!)

Bigger Meaning Score:  4/5


Defining Quote:  “When you’re writing about a person, you don’t need to describe every last thing about him or her.  Instead you should try to give just one telling detail to help the reader picture the character.”

This was beautifully written.  I love how each chapter was an interesting / funny / moving ‘mini story’ that builds up to a larger story.  It reminds me of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood or David Sedaris.  There was not a lot of extraneous descriptions (as illustrated by the quote above)

Alex’s tone is just wonderfully innocent, and accurate:

“As you probably know, when you’re in trouble already, you can ask a simple legitimate question …and end up in even more trouble”

Style Score: 4/5

Final Thoughts?

-Bonus Beach Read Score: 4/5- Perfect for beach reading!

-There’s so much good stuff in this book, I can’t put it all in this review.

Total Score and Recommendation
-25/25- What are you waiting for?  Read it now!


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